When I try to connect to all corners of the world… I almost forget which time zone I am in XD
Just three days after checking in to my Airbnb in Palermo, I had to wash the bedsheets and as I was hang drying them, one end of the hills clothesline broke off from the exterior wall. My host wasn’t home that day, so I mentioned it to her at night via Whatsapp. The next morning, she came home with this Colombella (Little Dove) pastry for me, saying that she immediately thought of me when she knew it’s gluten-free. HAHAHA. She’s the most easy-going flatmate I have had so far =)
The only thing I have lost so far during ChiLaTour was a rosario bracelet, which was a gift from a friend from Colombia. For over five years, I had been wearing it everyday as my amulet, or so I thought. It got dragged off along with my glove in the farmers’ market in Toulouse, France, last year. In the beginning, I felt naked not wearing it. Eventually, I have taught myself to let go of the grief from the loss and the uneasiness, because nothing that bad has happened.
About a month ago, a new friend from Turkey gave me a bracelet as a farewell gift, and so I have returned to wearing a bracelet everyday.
It was then when I realized that I am not treating these bracelets as amulets, but a tangible form of thoughts and care from my friends. That someone remembers me and cares for me.
When I am hitting the road alone, this bracelet reminds me that I am actually not alone.
Can’t believe that it has already been two years since I started this so-called sabbatical.
Well, frankly, the second year was not as exciting anymore. For this very reason, I have done less travels. For three and a half months, I worked as a contractor with EA Sports, Madrid. The first couple months was challenging having to return to working full-time and to adjust in a new city. Yet, the next two was very enjoyable when I had developed my routines. After the job finished, it was months of depression and anxiety coming from solitude, isolation and not knowing where or how to settle down. Turkey was my little refuge for three months (Thanks to all my dear friends. You know who you are!) but it just made me realize how bad I need friends around me.
This is, nevertheless, the process of learning about myself. A Greek friend told me yesterday that my heart would tell me when it’s the right time to settle. As I am entering a new stage of life, I am working out new goals and plans to achieve these goals.
In numbers, I have:
Taken 1 long bus trip,
Taken 1 long train ride,
Taken 14 legs of flights,
Taken 3 Blablacar trips,
Taken many ferry rides in Istanbul and Izmir,
Stayed in 9 Airbnb,
Stayed with 2 families for free in exchange of English practice,
Couchsurfed ZERO time,
Joined 3 free and paid tours,
Finished 13 freelance projects,
Taken 2 full-time jobs.
In the photo: All the transit cards I have kept the past couple years. Paris doesn’t have pass like this, and I returned the London Oyster card for my deposit.
• Wow, people here really don’t smile, and don’t smile back, including swimmers at the municipal pool (but the staff were very nice.)
• Greeks like to oregano everything, including chips, roasted nuts, salad, meat…
• The streets are so narrow that, with the trees and stoops, it’s not a walkable city.
• In such a big, capital city, how come buses stop service at around 23:15 and subway at 00:15!?!?!?
• It’s culturally acceptable to gently push someone’s shoulder, arm, waist to make them step aside.
• Greeks tilt their heads backwards to say no, like the Turkish.
• Similar to Turkey, people mainly use bouillon cubes. I have only seen liquid broth in glass jars in organic shops.
Apparently, joining a gym in Athens requires a certificate from a pathologist or cardiologist saying that you’re physically fit to do sports (Some private gyms don’t care.) And to join the municipal pool, an extra paper from a dermatologist.
At least now I know my blood pressure and blood oxygen level are normal.
And I may have carotenosis, but I think it’s more of my anemia… 😝
First impression of Athens (After staying in Turkey for three months):
• Looking at the feta cheese, Greek coffee, Greek delight, baklava, helva, tahini, koulouri/simit, salep, ayran, dried fruits, etc. etc., it feels like I am still in Turkey, just that things are changed to Greek alphabets.
• To me, Greek phonetically sounds like Spanish, mixed with some Turkish words.
• Phew, more people speak basic English here.
• Oh, I can use Wikipedia again =D
• Wow, there are ethnic food! Indian! Colombian! Ethiopian! Mexican! Jap! Korean!
• Aw, back to Spanish kind of store hours. Stores are closed between 2-5 p.m. and are closed on Sunday.
• How come the transit card itself is free?!?!?!
• Gluten-free products get harder to find than other European countries. Kikkoman’s Tamari sauce is more expensive than in Spain and Turkey.